It’s never easy to make the decision to move a loved one out of their home and into a nursing home or assisted living facility. It can be hard to take away some of their independence, but even more frightening is the thought of making them vulnerable and dependent upon another to provide care. When you put your loved one in someone else’s care, you are trusting those people with the people you love most, and sadly, not every company or person is worthy of that trust.

Here are some things you can do ahead of time to prevent your nearest and dearest from suffering at the hands of elder abuse.

Do Your Research

Before deciding on a nursing home or assisted living, ask around. Do you have any friends whose parents have moved into a nursing home or assisted living? What has their experience been like?

Take a tour of each building you’re considering for your loved one and look around carefully. Is it clean? How do the residents look?

Talk with the staff. Ask questions. See how they respond, how they behave around the residents, and determine if they’re people you can trust.

Be Proactive

Get a power of attorney and/or a will before your loved one loses the capacity to make decisions for themselves. This will help protect their assets and make it easier for you to protect them, including making legal decision for them if anything does go wrong.

Be Present

Visit your loved one early and often. Predators prey on the weak and the isolated, and one of the best ways you can protect your loved one is by simply being there and showing the staff you’re looking out for them.

The next part of that is to actually look out for your loved one. Know the signs of elder abuse, and know that the victim will rarely, if ever, tell you about it, so just asking how they are isn’t enough. Take note of any changes in behavior, weight, and any signs of injury. If you see anything suspicious, take note of it and take pictures.

Talk with the Staff

Ask about what medications your loved one is on and write it all down so you can keep track of it. Talk to the staff if you see anything suspicious. If nothing seems to change after you bring up a serious concern, you might want to consider alerting the authorities.

Educate Yourself

Know the signs of elder abuse and what to do about it if the unthinkable does happen. Know the requirements for filing a complaint within the nursing home or assisted living in which your loved one is residing, as well as the legal options available to you within your own state, county and city. Elder abuse isn’t tolerated anywhere, but the specifics protecting you and your loved one vary depending on where you’re located, so be sure to keep yourself updated on all the laws pertaining to elder abuse governing your area.

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